On Sunday, September 1st, NASCAR will be live from the Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina, for the Bojangles’ Southern 500. This annual Labor Day weekend race has been a tradition for the sport and its fans since 1950.
The Bojangles’ Southern 500 is widely considered one of the most popular NASCAR races throughout the year and the track itself has some of the coolest nicknames in all of professional sports: “The Lady in Black” and “The Track Too Tough to Tame.”
For the drivers, time is running out on the regular season. With only two races left before the playoffs begin, at least five drivers are competing for the final three spots. Currently, Kyle Busch leads all drivers in the standings with his teammates Denny Hamlin in third place and Martin Truex Jr. in fourth.
Darlington betting sites have Kyle Busch as the odds on favorite to win this race. Both Hamlin and Truex are also near the top of this list. Surprisingly, Kyle Larson comes into this weekend as the second odds on favorite. Let’s take a closer look at these NASCAR betting odds, identify potential betting value, pick some prop bets, and take the checkered flag with our race winning prediction.
Bojangles’ Southern 500 Race Profile
The Darlington Raceway broke ground 70 years ago and held its first NASCAR race in 1950. Since then, the Bojangles’ Southern 500, and its various incarnation of race names, has become one of the most cherished races each season.
The track is a basic oval that slightly resembles an egg. The distance is roughly 1.36 miles per lap as it features four turns, with banking from 23 degrees to 25 degrees and two straightaways. The Bojangles’ Southern 500 race breaks down as follows:
- Total Miles: 501 miles
- Total Laps: 367 laps
- Stage 1: First 100 laps
- Stage 2: Second 100 laps
- Final Stage: Remaining 167 laps
The Bojangles’ Southern 500 is set to begin at 6 PM ET and will air live on NBCSN.
What to Watch for at Darlington
With all of the racing excitement heading into Labor Day weekend, the following storylines are worth keeping an eye on at Darlington:
- Who will hurt or help their playoff chances?
- Can Denny Hamlin win a second consecutive race?
- Will Brad Keselowski win a second straight Bojangles’ Southern 500?
- Will we get a first-time winner at Darlington?
- Can Kyle Larson get his first win of the season?
Previous Bojangles’ Southern 500 Winners
As mentioned above, the first ever Darlington race was held on September 4th, 1950. Since then, Jeff Gordon has gone on to set the all-time record with six Bojangles’ Southern 500 victories. David Pearson holds the record for most wins at Darlington Raceway with 10.
Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with three victories at Darlington and two Southern 500 wins. Brad Keselowski won this race last year. The following is a list of previous Bojangles’ Southern 500 winners dating back to 2008:
- Kyle Busch in 2008
- Mark Martin in 2009
- Denny Hamlin in 2010, 2017
- Regan Smith in 2011
- Jimmie Johnson in 2012
- Matt Kenseth in 2013
- Kevin Harvick in 2014
- Carl Edwards in 2015
- Martin Truex Jr. in 2016
- Brad Keselowski in 2018
Six previous winners will take the starting field on Sunday night: Busch, Hamlin, Johnson, Harvick, Truex, and Keselowski.
NASCAR Bojangles’ Southern 500 Betting Odds
The following NASCAR betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline:
- Kyle Busch (+500)
- Kyle Larson (+500)
- Denny Hamlin (+600)
- Kevin Harvick (+600)
- Martin Truex Jr. (+600)
- Brad Keselowski (+700)
- Joey Logano (+700)
- Chase Elliott (+1200)
- Erik Jones (+1200)
- Kurt Busch (+2000)
- Alex Bowman (+2500)
- Ryan Blaney (+2800)
- Clint Bowyer (+4000)
- Jimmie Johnson(+4000)
- Aric Almirola (+5000)
- Daniel Suarez (+5000)
- William Byron (+5000)
- Matt DiBenedetto (+6600)
- Austin Dillon (+8000)
- Ryan Newman (+8000)
Darlington Betting Favorites
According to most NASCAR betting sites, the following drivers are considered the odds on favorites to win the Bojangles’ Southern 500 from Darlington:
|Driver||Wins||Top 5||Top 10||Avg Start||Avg Finish||DNF|
|Martin Truex Jr||1||2||6||15.9||11.3||0|
Kyle Busch (+500)
Over the first 12 races, Kyle Busch was the best driver in the sport. However, the last 12 races have been a different story. He took home three checkered flags over the first dozen races, but only one victory during the second dozen. In fact, it’s been almost three months since Busch last won a race.
At Bristol, Busch finished fourth overall. It was his sixth straight Top 11 finish. Kyle still leads the driver standings and the playoff standings as well.
At Darlington, Busch has one victory and nine Top 10s in 14 career starts. However, that victory came in 2008. Since then, Busch has been competitive, but unable to get back to victory circle. In the 10 Darlington races since he last won, Busch has seven Top 10s and just one poor finish where he had car issues. Kyle has also led laps in 10 of his 14 races at this track.
Busch has all of the tools to win here and his 11.6 average finish is the second best among Top 10 drivers in the standings.
Kyle Larson (+500)
Larson has been coming on strong over the last few months. In his last 10 races, Larson has seven Top 10s and four Top 5s. He went from 15th in the driver standings, and barely in the playoffs, to 11th in the standings and virtual lock for the postseason. Larson finished sixth at Bristol in the last race, and even led 62 laps. He’s riding a lot of momentum into a track where he’s been good at.
Larson has the second best average finish among active drivers at 7.6. He has four Top 10s and has never finished worse than 14th overall. Additionally, Larson has led laps in four of his five career races. Last year, he led 284 of the 367 total laps, but ended up finishing third overall.
I like Larson’s chances this weekend and he definitely deserves to be taken into consideration by those betting on NASCAR.
Denny Hamlin (+600)
If there’s any driver that deserves to be the odds on favorite, it’s Denny Hamlin. Not only has his success at this track been incredible, but he’s also been the hottest driver in NASCAR over the last dozen races. Where his teammate Kyle Busch has slowed down, Hamlin has picked things up.
Denny has six straight Top 5 finishes on the season and has won two of those races. NASCAR was off last weekend, but it was Hamlin who won their last race which was at Bristol two weekends ago. He stormed his way to the front late in the race and beat out Matt DiBenedetto to take the checkered flag.
At Darlington, Hamlin has had a stellar career so far. In 13 career races, he has two wins, seven Top 5s and eleven Top 10s. Denny also has the best average finish among active drivers at 6.2. He’s led laps in the last five races at this track and nine of his 13 appearances at Darlington Raceway.
Hamlin should be the odds on favorite for this race based on his momentum on the season and his past success at this track. He will certainly be the man to beat on Sunday.
Kevin Harvick (+600)
Harvick’s blown clutch at Bristol two weekends ago really stopped his summer momentum. Harvick had four straight Top 7 finishes with wins in Michigan and New Hampshire. Unfortunately, he ran into some mechanical issues and finished 39th overall. That result dropped him from third to fifth in the standings.
Darlington is a track where Kevin Harvick has raced well at during his career. Harvick won this race in 2014 and has six straight Top 9 appearances. He’s led laps in four out of the last five races and has eleven Top 10’s in his 22 career starts.
This weekend’s race will be a great chance for Harvick to bounce back and get a solid result. But can the #4 car compete for the checkered flag?
Martin Truex Jr. (+600)
Truex comes into this weekend sitting fourth in the driver standings behind two of his teammates as Hamlin sits in third and Busch is first overall. It’s been nine races since he last won, but he has cracked the Top 10 in five of those races.
Like with fellow JGR drivers Busch and Hamlin, Truex has also run well at Darlington. Martin won this race in 2016, has three straight races where he’s led laps, and has four straight races where he’s finished in the Top 11. His 11.3 average finish is tied for the second best among active drivers with Keselowski.
With the playoffs around the corner, I expect Truex to run well this weekend. Will he have enough horsepower and luck to beat Hamlin or Busch?
The Best Darlington Betting Value
The following NASCAR drivers offer betting value for this Sunday’s race at Darlington due to their current NASCAR betting odds, their past success at this track, and their 2019 season so far:
|Driver||Wins||Top 5||Top 10||Avg Start||Avg Finish||DNF|
Chase Elliott (+1200)
There might be better drivers at Darlington than Elliott, but I like what I see from the young gun. He’s finished in the Top 11 for three straight races and has an average finish of 16.8. Last year, Elliott was fifth in this race and showed that he now has a handle on the track.
On the season, Elliott has three straight Top 9 finishes with a win in Watkins Glen four weeks ago. It was an absolute domination as he led 80 of the 90 total laps. Elliott led 33 laps at Bristol two weekends ago. It appears that Chase is heating up at the right time.
Erik Jones (+1200)
The fourth and final member of Joe Gibbs Racing is Erik Jones. And, like his teammates, Jones has run well at Darlington in his career. Jones has an average finish of 6.5 and an average start of 8.5 in his two races at this track.
On the season, Jones sits 14th in the driver standings. His last two races were average at best as he finished 18th at Michigan and 22nd at Bristol. Those results snapped a four-race streak where he finished in the Top 4.
Jones has the potential to pull off a Top 5 finish this Sunday night. But does he have what it takes to beat his teammates and win this race?
Jimmie Johnson (+4000)
As mentioned above, Johnson leads all active drivers with three wins at Darlington. Unfortunately, his last four races haven’t gone well as he’s crashed out of two of them. Nevertheless, Johnson has the sixth best average finish (11.9) among active drivers with three or more starts at Darlington.
On the season, Johnson is in a dog fight just to make the playoffs. The former seven-time champion sits 18th in the standings just 26 points behind the cutoff. He’s had a tough stretch where he’s finished 15th or worse in six straight races.
Johnson’s odds of +4000 provide value based on his past success at this track and his desperation to get into the playoffs. JJ has yet to miss a NASCAR postseason.
The Top Longshot to Win the Bojangles Southern 500
Ryan Newman (+8000) continues to impress each and every week. He currently sits 15th in the driver standings just 14 points ahead of the cutoff line. If the postseason started tomorrow, Newman would be in.
At Darlington, Newman has thirteen Top 10s in 20 career starts. His 12.1 average finish is seventh best among active drivers with at least three starts. He’s finished in the Top 10 four out of the last six races. Over that span, he’s never finished worse than 19th.
Newman has never let me down when I pick him as a longshot. He’s always competitive and cracking the Top 10 on a consistent basis. With seven career Top 5s, this weekend’s race could be exactly what Newman needs to get into victory circle and the playoffs.
Darlington Prop Bets: Driver Matchups
The following NASCAR prop bets require bettors to select the winning driver out of head-to-head matchups at Darlington on Sunday, September 1st. These driver matchups and betting odds are courtesy of 5Dimes:
Kyle Larson (-130) vs Joey Logano (-110)
|Driver||Kyle Larson||Joey Logano|
Logano has twice as many appearances at Darlington as Larson does, but he has just one more Top 5 and Top 10 than Kyle. His average finish is about 9 spots lower and he also has one DNF. Logano does have three Top 5 finishes in the last four races at Darlington, which is better than Larson.
With that said, I like what Larson is doing at this point in the season. He’s been outracing Logano each week. Throw in Larson’s impressive body of work at Darlington and you have to like him in this matchup over the defending NASCAR champion.
For this bet, I’m taking my hometown driver to finish in the Top 5 and Logano to finish in the Top 12 to 15.
Denny Hamlin (-125) vs Brad Keselowski (-115)
|Driver||Denny Hamlin||Brad Keselowski|
This is going to be a tough battle as both drivers have done really well at Darlington in their careers. As mentioned, Keselowski is the reigning champ for this race and has a solid average finish. However, when compared to Hamlin, Keselowski seems like an average driver.
Hamlin has Keselowski beat across the board. Additionally, Hamlin has been on fire over the last 12 races while Keselowski has been a Top 10 to Top 15 car. I expect both men to compete all race long, but Hamlin should pull away as the laps wind down.
I’m taking Hamlin to win this head-to-head matchup.
Bojangles’ Southern 500 Checkered Flag
This Sunday’s Darlington night race is going to be a dog fight between at least a half dozen drivers. I expect Busch, Larson, Truex, Hamlin, Keselowski, Harvick, Elliott, Newman, and Jones to finish in the Top 10. From there, I believe this race will be a battle of which JGR car is the best.
Hamlin, Truex, Busch, and Jones will all run well, but I believe it’s going to be Kyle Busch who gets his first win in three months. He needs momentum heading into the postseason and a victory at Darlington would be a great way to remind the rest of the field who the best driver is.
My Top 5 Drivers
- Kyle Busch
- Kyle Larson
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Denny Hamlin
- Brad Keselowski
Bojangles’ Southern 500 Betting Recap
- Chase Elliott (+1200)
- Erik Jones (+1200)
- Jimmie Johnson (+4000)
- Denny Hamlin (-125) over Brad Keselowski
- Kyle Larson (-130) over Joey Logano
NASCAR Props Challenge for Week 25
Every race week, NASCAR releases 10 prop bets for fans to choose the correct answers, earn points, and compete for prizes. For the 25th race of the 2019 season, there are a few props that I believe you should go with.
Does Denny Hamlin Finish in the Top 5?
Obviously a Top 5 finish isn’t an easy task, but Hamlin has been making it look easy at Darlington and over the last few months of the season.
In his 13 career starts at Darlington Raceway, Hamlin has seven Top 5s and nine Top 7s. He has two wins and a streak of finishing in the Top 5 for six of the last nine Darlington races. On the season, Hamlin has thirteen Top 5s in 24 races and a streak of six straight Top 5 finishes.
I believe that Hamlin will compete for a checkered flag and finish in the Top 5.
Over/Under 15.5 Lead Changes
Lead chances are a frequent occurrence at Darlington. However, some races have seen very few lead changes like last year when there were only seven. With that said, let’s take a look at the number of lead changes for the last 40 races to get an idea of whether to pick the over or under:
- The over is 3-2 in the last five races.
- The over is 7-3 in the last 10 races.
- The over is 14-6 in the last 20 races.
- The over is 18-12 in the last 30 races.
- The over is 27-13 in the last 40 races.
Whether it’s the short term or the long term, the over has been the dominant result. For this prop bet, take over 15.5 lead changes.
Which Chevy Team Will Have the Highest Finishing Car?
There are several top-notch Chevy teams in the sport. However, this prop bet is asking which team will have the highest placed drive at the end of the race:
- Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR)
- Hendrick Motorsports (HM)
The top drivers for CGR are: Kurt Busch and Kyle Larson. I’ve detailed Larson’s success at this track in the favorites and the head-to-head sections. So, there’s no need to repeat that here. I believe he will be a Top 5 car. As for Busch, I’m not as hopeful.
Kurt Busch has never won at Darlington in 22 appearances. Furthermore, he has just eight Top 10s, an average finish of 16.9 and two DNFs. CGR’s best hope is with Larson as Busch is a Top 15 car at this track.
Hendrick Motorsports has the following drivers in its stable: Chase Elliott, William Byron, Jimmie Johnson, and Alex Bowman. I’ve already laid out the arguments and past success at this track for Elliott and Johnson. Let’s look more at Byron and Bowman.
Bowman, the #88 car, has never finished in the Top 20 at Darlington and has an average finish of 25.3. Although he’s most likely going to make the playoffs this year, Bowman is not an option to win this race or finish higher than his teammates.
William Byron has had one attempt at “The Lady in Black,” and he blew an engine during last year’s race. His lack of experience does not instill confidence. He will most likely finish last among Hendrick drivers.
For this prop bet, it all comes down to Kyle Larson (CGR) and Chase Elliott (Hendrick) as they’ve been the best at Darlington for their respective teams over the last handful of races. Although Johnson has three wins, he’s had a terrible stretch of races at this track.
I’m taking Kyle Larson to finish higher than Chase Elliott, which means that Chip Ganassi Racing will have the highest placed Chevy driver in the Bojangles’ Southern 500.